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The Diary of a Country Priest (The Criterion Collection)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Claude Laydu, Nicole Ladmiral, Jean Riveyre, Adrien Borel, Rachel Bérendt
  • Directors: Robert Bresson
  • Writers: Robert Bresson, Georges Bernanos
  • Format: Black & White, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Paradox
  • Release Date: Feb. 3 2004
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000127IF2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #46,758 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: DVD
Is it necessary to say this is mude film with almost unneccesary subtitles. The superb eloquence in Bresson's language supported on Bernanos'story give us the most intimate portrait of a priest in a lost village.
The poetic images are enriched by a precise dialogue. The multiple reflections derivated from the story are so many that you must see this movie several times , a priest with epic sense in a dark neighborhood. The methapors are everywhere, in the images, in the suggested ideas beyond the visual language.
In this sense nobody could give a best homage to Bresson's art that his friend Tarkovsky, who after knowing him said in Paris these wise words: If we admit that Bresson is the biggest filmaker in the world, then the filmaker who is in the second place, really is in the tenth".
I sincerely recomend to get one work of Andre Bazin titled What's is the cinema? where Bazin (who belonged to Cahiers du Cinema) offers an amazing and exhaustive analysis about this film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. B. Alcat TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Aug. 11 2007
Format: DVD
"Diary of a country priest" (1951), directed by Robert Bresson and based on a well-known novel by Georges Bernanos, is a beautiful masterpiece in black and white. Regarding this film, Bresson said that "(...) I wasn't faithful to the style of Bernanos, and I omitted details which I disliked. But I was faithful to the spirit of the book and to what it inspired in me as I read it".

This film recounts the spiritual journey of a new priest (played by Claude Laydu) that has to face unfriendly people in his first parish at the same time he suffers from ill health and doubts regarding his faith. The story is told mainly thanks to journal entries, something that allows the spectator to be privy to the priest's inner thoughts, and struggle with him when he faces different kinds of problems.

As you can probably imagine, it is not easy to watch this film. Nonetheless, I strongly recommend it, as Bresson manages to capture the anguish and fierceness of the battle played in this young man's heart, and show us that interior drama in excruciating detail.

Belen Alcat
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By A Customer on March 17 2004
Format: DVD
It is amazing to me that Criterion would realease such a landmark film of the French Cinema on DVD, in this condition. The transfer looks great, the only problem is that the film is loose in the gate, causing it to jump and move in and out of focus. This tends to subside a little as the film progresses, but was very dissapointing to an ardent Bresson fan, and will be to anyone who enjoys Bresson's classic "cinematography".
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Format: DVD
Bresson's screen adaptation of Bernanos' novel brilliantly plumbs the depths of one soul's quest for redemption. This film is a stirring masterpiece to be viewed time and again even by those to whom the overt religiosity may seem somewhat daunting. As the doomed country priest persecuted to martyrdom by virtually everyone around him, Claude Laydu turns in a remarkably nuanced performance. But it is Bresson's humanism which suffuses the work with its unique ardor and beauty. Needless to say a film of this depth of feeling could never be produced in today's rampantly commercial celluloid world! Forever Diary of a Country Priest will stand as a testament to the amazing creative genius of the peerless French director Robert Bresson.
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Format: DVD
Through the journaling of a young priest the audience can follow the priest's first assignment as he is managing the small parish Ambricourt, which is located on the French countryside. As swiftly as the priest arrives he is discouraged by the unfriendly atmosphere that surrounds him in the village. His discouragement leads him on a path of spiritual and cerebral suffering as he struggles with his faith in God and humanity. Besides the intellectual struggle the priest is suffering physically from an illness in his abdomen that has forced him on a rare diet based on old bread that he softens in sweetened wine. Unselfishly, the priest continues to face-up to the adversity of his environment as he clasps on to remains of his minuscule faith. Bresson's vision of the priest is visually stunning as the film emotionally draws the audience into a vortex of thoughts, feelings, and presence. In the process, Bresson communicates his philosophical message with daunting simplicity as he removes all the miscues that could distort his position. This leaves the viewer with an utterly brilliant cinematic experience as one can sense and reflect on Bresson's revelation of a country priest.
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By A Customer on Feb. 6 2004
Format: DVD
Diary of a Country Priest, which made Bresson a name in French cinema, is one of the most perplexing films I've ever seen, despite being one of his earliest. Here he begins developing the minimalistic style that would mature throughout the rest of his unprolific career. The editing is furious and bizarre, unlike anything in any other film. Long, forboding shots of natural settings are closed in by barrages of short, clausterphobic indoor shots. Scenes often begin in the middle, or even after the important dramatic events. What I noticed most of all is that sound often preceeds the image -- and many time the screen is black for several seconds, leaving the viewer to absorb and reflect solely on the audio before the visuals kick in. And, oddly enough, reading of the diary is accompanied by the actual shot of the priest writing, defying the cinematic "rule" that sound isn't needed. Bresson makes full use of all cinematic effects, and listening to this film is as important as watching it.
The film is adapted from the French conservative Catholic novelist Bernanos's book of the same title. It is faithful to some degree, but with small, very important departures. A young, sickly priest arrives in a miserable French village and is immediately outcasted by the townspeople. Living off of hard bread and sugared wine (one of many almost too-obvious religious symbols), he desperately tries to make a spiritual difference in the town. The more he tries, however, the more suspicion and scandal is heaped on him by the townspeople, especially the local count, who entertains a mistress while his wife and daughter fall into a bottomless pit of morbidity and hatred. His spiritual failures are echoed by his physical weakness, and at last his constitution gives out.
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